The Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area plan that is designed to assist several downtown establishments and enhance the budding downtown entertainment district has been completed.
After presenting a preliminary concept to City Council in August, city officials have completed establishing the boundaries for the DORA that is one half-square mile or less and within the city’s entertainment district, operating hours, that there were enough state liquor permit holders in the proposed DORA; and creating a safety and sanitation plan.
City Manager Doug Adkins said a formal presentation will be made to council on Tuesday.
The proposed DORA is bounded by Clark Street, Manchester Avenue, South Canal Street, Columbia Avenue including Donham Plaza, North Main Street, including the buildings on the northwest corner of North Main and Central Avenue, Central Avenue to the Great Miami River and around the southern edge of Forest Hills Country Club, Water Street and around the American Legion on South Main Street to First Avenue, to South Canal Street, to Reynolds Avenue to Curtis Street to Central Avenue back to Clark Street.
City officials said the DORA’s area can be adjusted as necessary.
In that area, there are five state liquor permit holders: At the Square; Murphy’s Landing; The Canal House; The American Legion; and Forest Hills. The area also includes possible future locations such as the Manchester Hotel, the proposed microbrewery/tap room in the Snider Ford/Sonshine building and other ventures in the works.
According to the proposed plan, the DORA will be in operation from 6 p.m. to midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at any other times established by the chief of police with the concurrence of City Council through a council motion.
For large special events, the city may require the organizer to hire off-duty police officers for safety reasons. The city will be adding 10 trash receptacles to the 32 already in the DORA, and the city’s collector will service all receptacles once a week with additional collections as needed.
While this would be an open container area, the beverages would be required to be purchased at establishments within the DORA, city officials have said. Patrons can purchase and walk around with a beverage, but they cannot take that beverage into another establishment. It also does not allow people to bring their own beverages into that area and drink there. City officials also said that public intoxication ordinances would be enforced as well as open container law for people bringing in their own beverages.
City officials said Middletown could possibly become the first city in Ohio to take advantage of a new law that allows alcohol in designated outdoor entertainment areas.
The law, House Bill 47, allows cities or townships with populations ranging from 35,000 to 50,000 to designate one “outdoor refreshment area” where people could legally walk outside with open containers of alcohol, exempting them from Ohio’s open-container law, which generally prohibits a person from carrying an open container of beer or liquor in public.
The law could have a significant economic impact not only in Middletown, but throughout Butler County, with some communities keenly interested in such districts and the revenue they may generate.
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